About Astia

Friday, August 27, 2010

Is there a movement for women helping women?

During a recent interview with a reporter from the New York Times I was asked, “Is there a movement for women helping women?”

I think she was surprised by my answer – “No! But there should be.”

OK, I did modify the answer - but only by a bit. It is my observation that there is a current flurry of tweets and blogs and even proper new stories (like the one she intends to do) about the dearth of women entrepreneurs and shouldn’t we all be doing something to solve it. I will even concede that it has gotten to the point that folks like Brian O’Malley at Battery Ventures are reaching out to me to tell me that the last “3 of my last 4 investments have been founded by women!” (exclamation point by Brian). Clearly there is something shifting. The new new thing seems to be having a woman in your portfolio! (exclamation point added by me.)

However, my caution is that this feels less like a movement and more like a bubble. My thoughts, that I shared with the reporter, were that this movement needed three things that it currently lacks to give it the foundation that it needs. I take these learnings from TiE – which in its short 13 years has taken Indian entrepreneurs and investors from the margins to the center stage.

  • We need a philanthropic investment. It is my observation that successful women need to be the ones to really get this agenda properly funded. Organizations like Astia, FWE&E, Women 2.0, Anita Borg – we all struggle on a string to create real impact for women. That needs to change! At TiE, the Charter members wrote (and still write) meaningful checks to fund the network. They knew that no one else was going to do it for them.
  • We need investment from women in women. Once again, taking a page from TiE, women investors need to step up – and stop fearing that investing in a woman makes them an activist investor. Men don’t feel the same when they bring a man in to the portfolio. And at TiE it was part of the agenda – to get wealthy Indians to invest in Indian entrepreneurs. Thanks to groups like Golden Seeds and Phenomenelle Angels, and individuals like Janet Hanson at 85 Broads and Cindy Padnos at Illuminate Ventures, there is a bit of this happening. But we need to make it the expected activity.
  • We need a committed, actively involved network to ignite this movement. We need this movement to have voice and dare to challenge the status quo. TiE did it 13 years ago, and we at Astia can do it today.

Stay tuned for more about how I think we can achieve these together. For now, enjoy our update and many upcoming happenings.

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